Eli Roth is back as writer and director for the sequel to his surprise hit, Hostel. This time around he takes the basic outline of Hostel’s script and tweaks it for Hostel Part II, producing a very watchable sequel. Instead of clueless American college boys being the victims, Roth substitutes free-spirited American college girls in their place. The biggest difference to the sequel is that it develops the perspective of the characters from the hunting club, the rich businessmen whom pay big dollars to torture and kill people at their leisure.
While the setting of Slovakia and specifics of the first movie are re-used in this sequel, the dangling plot thread from the first Hostel is finished off within the opening act. Jay Hernandez returns in a small cameo role as Paxton, to tell the aftermath of what happened after the events of Hostel ended, though his story is quickly ended and plays no part in the eventual outcome of Hostel Part II. This time the plot revolves around three American girls- Beth (Laura German), Whitney (Bijou Phillips), and their stodgy friend, Lorna (Heather Matazarro). Beth and Whitney are close friends and somehow get stuck dragging Lorna, a professional stick-in-the-mud, along to Prague for a little downtime from their studies.
It’s at this moment when a mysterious woman they meet in their art class starts showing a dramatic interest in Beth, with clear lesbian undertones. It gets even weirder for the trio of girls when the mystery woman just so happens to show up on their train to Prague. She talks the girls into traveling with her to a hostel in Slovakia. The story develops along much the same lines from this point as the first Hostel, though Roth wisely adds a parallel character arc featuring a nervous American businessman, Stuart (Roger Bart), talked into joining the murderous club by a close friend.
Outside of the torture scenes in the first Hostel, there wasn’t much time devoted to developing the antagonists’ history or their personalities. Stuart gets a full character arc that lays out his background and reveals the eventual motivation for why a seemingly normal person would end up paying for the privilege of killing a helpless victim. His character does become a bit of a caricature as the movie sails along, but the biting sarcasm works in an off-kilter manner, juxtaposed against his terrible actions as a killer.
Hostel Part II showcases a number of nicely designed set pieces that will satisfy the most deviant of torture porn’s fans, including a gruesome sacrifice where a woman bathes in blood dripping off a freshly killed body. Most viewers familiar with the first movie won’t be surprised by the plot’s twists and turns, but the dialog is clever enough to make up for that shortfall. It’s rare for a sequel to be as entertaining as the original, but Hostel Part II happens to be one of those cases.
While the transfer for the first Hostel was acceptable on this double feature from Mill Creek, the sequel unfortunately is far worse than the transfer found on the original Sony Blu-ray. Hostel Part II was never going to be confused as reference material, Roth wanted a certain dirty appearance to his film befitting the subject matter. A number of mistakes conspire to make this film almost unwatchable on this disc. Much of what was written about the first Hostel’s transfer applies to the sequel, though somehow it has turned out even worse at a lower quality.
This particular transfer is beset by a tremendous amount of edge enhancement and an overly dark appearance that crushes oodles of shadow detail. Black levels are so deep that shadow delineation is but a pipe dream in many scenes. It’s a literal wall of black at times, especially for any scene taking place at night or in the dark. Oddly enough, the second half of the film ends up looking better, as the different color timing of the torture sequences works a little better with the crushed black levels. A small positive and change from the first Hostel’s transfer, is the disappearance of film anomalies and damage that peppered the screen on the first one.
Hostel Part II has okay contrast and an acceptable level of sharpness before the setting shifts to Slovokia. Actual detail is not that high for a recent movie, with sporadic high-frequency content in close-ups. That result looks more due to poor cinematography than any obvious use of DNR. Shots go in and out of focus on a scene-by-scene basis, producing an erratic level of video quality. Roth loves his rustic colors and teal push in the Hostel franchise, tinting the second half with an odd green glow so common in modern horror films.
Running 95 minutes exactly, the 2007 film is encoded in AVC at a decent bitrate. It shares a single BD-50 with the first Hostel on this double feature. The problems with the picture quality are not due to the compression encode, which copes quite well with the poor visibility of the image. The main feature is presented in its native aspect ratio of 2:35:1, at a resolution of 1080p. Fans of the sequel should hunt down the original Sony BD, if they want superior picture quality for the film.
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Two audio options are included for Hostel Part II. The main soundtrack is a dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless mix that sounds absolutely incredible. It comes alive to envelope the listener whenever it can, with thunderous bass and excellent fidelity. Never has torture ever sounded so realistic from a movie, as chains drag along the ground and the clink of steel tools fill all channels.
Your subwoofer will get a strenuous workout with deep, rhythmic bass as the symphonic score drives the action on screen. Hostel Part II has even better sound design than the original Hostel and loves to revel in the subtle ambient noises of humans being tortured. It’s as close to a reference soundtrack as any horror production of the past decade.
A French dub in 5.1 DTS-HD MA has also been provided by Mill Creek. The only subtitle offering is a English SDH track.
Aside from being paired with the original Hostel on the same disc, there are no extra features for Hostel Part II. Fans will want to seek out the original Sony Blu-ray version of the sequel, which offered dozens of extra features for the movie, including three separate commentaries.
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